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Thread: Ariodante by Georg Frideric Handel at the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC

          
   
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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Ariodante by Georg Frideric Handel at the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC

    Ariodante by Georg Frideric Handel at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington, DC

    This review is for the solo concert performance on Tuesday, 2 May, 2017

    Harry Bicket Director and Harpsichord, with The English Concert

    Cast

    Ariodante: Joyce DiDonato
    Ginevra: Christiane Karg
    Dalinda: Mary Bevan
    Polinesso: Sonia Prina
    Lurcanio: David Portillo
    King of Scotland: Matthew Brook
    Odoardo: Tyson Miller


    Concert performances are harder to write up than regular opera performances - obviously, there is no production to laud, complain about or otherwise discuss. Last night's performance was semi-staged, though not as completely as other semi staged performances I've seen, and most of the action was on the part of our Polinesso, Sonia Prina, who did her best to chew the non-existent scenery, hitting on poor Dalinda.

    That said, What an Evening! Some of the most extraordinary singing I've heard in a long time. Joyce DiDonato is like some kind of national treasure at this point. I have listened to the Minkowski recording that I have (w/Anne Sofie von Otter) a couple of times, but didn't have much of a feel for the opera. With that in mind, I went in to the concert feeling that I would be out like a light in minutes. I needn't have feared. The performance, structured with a first rate cast, was riveting.

    The opera starts very sweetly with the love story between Ginevra and Ariodante, but things start going to hell very quickly. As stated, Sonia Prina came out to meet Dalinda and put on the moves - which were very convincing - and we quickly got the sense of the true nastiness of Polinesso: setting up Dalinda at the same time as setting up Ariodante. Sonia Prina sang as well as she acted (though I don't find her coloratura all that flexible), and brought down the house at every turn. Mary Bevan's Dalinda was beautifully sung and acted with sweet naivete. She was the perfect foil for Polinesso's mischief and, really, was quite dazzling.

    Christiane Karg sang, and was, a beautiful Ginevra. Hers, except for the opening minutes of the opera, is a desperate and increasingly sad role, nearly culminating in a mad scene (except, of course, that the opera has a happy ending). She is a compelling singer who rounded out this excellent cast perfectly.

    David Portillo's Lurcanio makes an entrance in the first act and he is a singer I think is terrific. I've now seen him sing several times (I Capuleti e i Montecchi) and the beautiful tone of his voice, stage demeanor and stamina (David/Die Meistersinger) are more and more impressive. He has become increasingly versatile in his roles and was, as expected, superb all night.

    Matthew Brook's King of Scotland also was excellent, and won the house with his cheery dance step on his way to his seat at the side of the stage after announcing his pleasure at the upcoming wedding between his daughter, Ginevra, and Ariodante.

    Considering how good the cast was to this point, it was hard to imagine that Joyce DiDonato would stand out as more than another member of a terrific ensemble cast. Was I wrong about that - and, I should have known better. When Ariodante saw his intended, Ginevra (really Dalinda in disguise), making out with Polinesso, he goes into despair. The minutes of the heartbreaking “Scherza infida” were among the most gorgeous singing I've ever heard live. Incredible.

    It was a long performance, starting at 8:00 PM and ending just before midnight. Those 4 hours flew by and was the best value of $53 I've spent in a long time. I went to bed late, but on a total cloud.

    Btw, the Carnegie Hall performance by this cast is available on Medici TV until 31 July:

    http://www.medici.tv/en/concerts/joy...del-ariodante/
    Last edited by Hoffmann; May 4th, 2017 at 02:05 AM.

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    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    ^ I couldn't agree more, having seen it in Ann Arbor, Michigan last week. I also approached it thinking it might be a tad boring, but was blown away by how wonderful it was. I was riveted to the opera the whole three hours and each of the two 15 minute intermissions seemed to take forever. My son even said he wished they would not have the intermissions but just keep on going.

    Did the audience laugh when Ginevra rejected having Polinesso as here champion to prove her innocent, and when Polinesso said he was dying and at the report of Polinesso's death confession? That happened in Ann Arbor and I can't figure what was the joke.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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